The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Jamie Holt

PORT VALE cap­tain Doug Loft says the pro­moted Valiants haven’t fin­ished yet – and he tips them to be a real force next sea­son too.

Pro­mo­tion from League Two was all-but se­cured with a 2-2 draw at home to Northamp­ton last week­end with most of the 12,496 crowd – the big­gest at Vale Park in 15 years – spilling out onto the pitch at the end.

For­mer Brighton mid­fielder Loft ad­mits the re­lief of the fans was matched by that of the play­ers, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing he was one of just three pro­fes­sion­als who turned up for pre-sea­son train­ing last sum­mer with the club on its knees fi­nan­cially.

But af­ter lead­ing a side made up al­most en­tirely of free trans­fers and loans to their first pro­mo­tion in 19 years, and cel­e­brat­ing the birth of his sec­ond daugh­ter, Amelie, at the end of March, life is sweet for Loft.

“I think given the re­wards at the end of it, this has to be the best sea­son of my ca­reer,” he said.

“Last sea­son and this sea­son I’ve played the best football, but win­ning pro­mo­tion has been the ic­ing on the cake.

“My daugh­ter was born on the morn­ing of the Chel­tenham game, so it’s been a great cou­ple of weeks. There’s been a few sleep­less nights, but it’s been great.


“It’s a feel­ing of re­lief re­ally, we didn’t play as well as we could have against Northamp­ton but we man­aged to get over the line.

“Vale haven’t been pro­moted in a long time, and it was a bril­liant at­mos­phere at that game and against Bur­ton, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing where we have been.

“I was one of the three play­ers that was at the club at the start of the sea­son. I was think­ing:‘What the hell is go­ing on?’ I had no idea what was go­ing to hap­pen, to be hon­est, but the boss (Micky Adams) did a good job in get­ting a squad to­gether on free trans­fers and it’s a re­ally nice end­ing to the sea­son.

“He made me cap­tain as well which was a shock, but I was de­lighted.

“I’ve said be­fore though that the hard work is to come. Get­ting pro­mo­tion is all well and good but Port Vale are a big club and they de­serve to be in a higher league.”

It says a lot about the abil­ity of boss Micky Adams that by the time Vale were taken over by new owner Paul Wildes in Novem­ber and came out of ad­min­is­tra­tion, they were still in sec­ond place.

The sea­son has been a bat­tle with even­tual champi- ons Gilling­ham, and de­spite fall­ing short it wasn’t the end of the world for boy­hood Gills fan Loft.

“I used to go and watch them as a kid with my dad and brother, but I’ve not been since I was 14,” said Loft. “It was a bit strange bat­tling with them this sea­son, but it’s nice to see them go up as well. Ob­vi­ously I would have pre­ferred us to go up as cham­pi­ons, that was al­ways my aim, but I’m still proud of what we’ve achieved.

“There’s a bril­liant struc­ture at the club now, from the owner to the man­ager, we’re go­ing in the right di­rec­tion and there’s a real buzz around the place.

“We’ve got all the right in­gre­di­ents and, given the right sign­ings in the sum­mer, we could do well. The days of ad­min­is­tra­tion seem a long time ago now.”


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